Christchurch cliffs collapse into sea as magnitude 5.7 Valentine Day quake rocks New Zealand

8 days short of 5th anniversary of 2011 tremor which killed almost 200 people & damaged $26.5 billion worth of property
By @vitthernandez on
Christchurch Cliffs
Dust and debris rise above houses after a cliff collapsed due to an earthquake on the Whitewash Head area, located above Scarborough Beach in the suburb of Sumner, Christchurch, New Zealand, February 14, 2016. Reuters/Richard Loffhagen/Handout via Reuters

A powerful 5.7-magnitude earthquake shook Christchurch in New Zealand’s South Island on Sunday, Valentine’s Day, at 1:13 pm. The tremor resulted in cliffs in the Whitewash Head area collapsing into the sea. reports that some areas in the city had liquefaction, while some buildings in South New Brighton were badly damaged with owners reporting broken glasses and products falling off store shelves.

However, beyond the collapsed cliffs, the city – which was badly damaged by the 2011 temblor that killed almost 200 people – did not have any major damage, reports Reuters. Geonet, New Zealand’s seismological agency, identified the epicentre of the tremor 15 kilometres east of Christchurch with a shallow depth of 15 kilometres.

As a result of the cliffs collapse, video footage show large clouds of billowing dust across the hills and seas. Geonet says there were over 40 aftershocks recorded.

Although the city is stronger compared to five years ago, nevertheless, a lot of residents would still feel vulnerable, say Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel. “Obviously with a 5.7 magnitude earthquake so close to the eastern coast of Christchurch it’s certainly been a big shock for the city, a setback in terms of people’s confidence and feeling of security,” Dalziel explains.

EQC Chief Executive Ian Simpson advises Canterbury residents who suffered damage because of the earthquake have three months to file for a claim. In anticipation of an increase in calls, Simpson says will have more staff assigned at its contact centre.

Residents could file a claim by calling 0800 DAMAGE. The centre opens from 7 am to 9 pm, but beyond those hours, callers could leave a message. Simpson also deployed immediately on Sunday geotechnical engineers to assess damage.